We have all seen the alarming statistics about cheating among students as reported in academic venues. In order to assist faculty in the prevention of cheating, we first need to identify the myriad ways in which students can cheat on exams, some technology driven and some just plain old-fashioned cheating. We sometimes forget the seriousness of not preventing and handling cheating in our classrooms. If students can cheat on a test, it sends the message that they do not have to pay attention, do the homework, or study the subject that teachers work so hard to teach.
If cheaters get away with cheating, and get higher grades because they cheat, that sends a de-motivating message to the hard-working students in your classroom. Cheating has become harder and harder to prevent with technology, for one, because technology facilitates the cheating and two, because students use the Internet to find new ways to get away with cheating. Eliminating cheating in the classroom can be accomplished through careful preparation, tenacity and effective classroom management. Make sure students understand from inception what is considered cheating.
Is sharing notes on an open book test considered cheating? If it is, then let students know ahead of time. Avoid ambiguity for a clear and confident work environment. Make sure to display classroom rules on plagiarism and test taking out in the open. Some students will be reluctant to cheat with these messages plastered around the classroom in front of them. For many students, the “out of sight, out of mind” adage proves useful in test taking and essay writing situations. Make it complicated for students to cheat by walking around the classroom during the test.
Teachers may even want to take a seat or stand in the back of the classroom. No student wants to look guilty by looking back to see where the teacher is located. Some teachers go as far as to make students leave their backpacks and electronics in front of the class on test day. Play offense when it comes to cheating. Beat students at their own game. Use technology like the Internet to find out how students are cheating these days. The ultimate best way to prevent cheating is spaced seating when possible, assigned seating when not possible by using a randomized assigned seating plan.
If spaced seating is not an option when using multiple choice tests, create multiple versions of the same sets of questions by switching the order of the answers or of the questions. Prevent cheating in the classroom through good classroom management, awareness, deterrent tactics, and good teaching skills. When cheating does occur, handle it swiftly and forcefully. Cheating may be around until the end of time, but that is no reason to let it fester in the classroom. According to Ken Halla, if you can laugh together and know each other well, then you will be able to work more successfully together.